Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

6 January 2014

Tanzania: We Must Pay for Water Ok, but It Should Be There!

PUBLIC institutions in various regions owe water authorities a whopping 10bn/- in outstanding bills, said Water Minister Prof Jumanne Maghembe in Moshi on Saturday.

This is a disservice to the water authorities in their quest to adequately service supply and distribution operations for the most precious liquid.

But in contrast to individual consumers who normally pay from their pockets, it is a bit complicated when it comes to institutions as consumption bills must be channelled across the bureaucratic lane prior to writing of cheques.

We take note that security and defence forces and the country's major public referral hospitals top the debtor list. The very nature of these institutions necessitates a prolonged payment channel due to their vast operational and user-base.

Prof Maghembe said on a working visit in Moshi that his ministry expected the listed institutions to pay in regular instalments to finally fulfil their obligations.

Hospitals, including the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), which is among the institutions listed, use a lot of water due to the very nature of their operations.

In fact, it would be suicidal if water supply to the hospital would be halted for whatever reason. In the same vein, you also cannot disconnect supply to the defence and security installations as doing so for whatever reason would amount to the disruption of operations at the topmost and vital organs of the state.

Water is indispensable in hospital operations as blood is to human life. Yet water supply and distribution management is a very expensive undertaking running up to billions of shillings.

That is why there is need for water supply and sewerage authorities to initiate, in case there is none, a system in which follow-ups in respect of corporate consumers, especially the 'difficult' ones, could regularly be made in the quest for payment compliance.

In the bottom line, water and sewerage authorities should not be concerned about payment of bills only, however importantly paramount.

They should also look into the other side of the coin - improved supply. It is quite unfathomable for consumers to receive bills every end of the month while taps had been running dry most of the time.

That is the double-edged sword scenario that water authorities should strive to eliminate.

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